Elizabeth Eckford goes to school

President Obama goes to work

Thanks Melissa Harris-Perry!  Smart cookie!

General Motors automobile mural

Image by Toban Black via Flickr

note:  This started as a reply to the last comment from spreadeagle72 but it became so long and full of import that I had to post it.   Thanks for the conversation Spread, you spawned a post!  

Here is his last comment so you can get the gist:

‘I hate to see anyone lose their job. I’ve lost a few jobs in my life but didn’t need the government to “bail” me out. If the feds would have stayed out of the automobile industry in the first place and allowed the free market to fend for itself there would have been more than 3 or 4 manufacturers in the country and we would not be in this mess to begin with.
It doesn’t have anything to do with democrats or republicans…..
Bad business is just that….whether you do it with the burden of union pentions, labor costs, or the Hill with all it’s taxes and regulations it’s always bad business practices that end jobs.

All you have to do is look across the pond to figure out that bailouts no matter how small are never the answer. It always bites you one way or the other.’

The Blunt Response:

Today, Chrysler and GM are among the most successful auto companies for the year 2011.  In 2008, Chrysler and GM would have closed down their shops and sold anything of value to the still standing victors and tens of thousands of automotive jobs would now be gone.  We would have been down to one, that’s right, ONE American car company with other FOREIGN owned manufacturers doing some part of their business in the states (especially the states where employers do not have to provide health care or negotiate collectively with employees for better pay).  The banks and right wing conservatives were ready to let them fail but Obama and a Democratic Senate and House saved the American automotive industry with a federal program.

Also, it was not a ‘bailout’.  The banking industry with it’s comparatively small but very well paid staff qualified for massive massive give aways so they could continue the foreclosures and multimillion end of year bonuses.  GM and Chrysler could only qualify for loans.  That’s right, the federal money given to GM and Chrysler were structured as loans and much has already been paid off, plus interest to the US treasury.   Here, we have proof that the government saved jobs and still conservatives scoff and try to spin a success into a failure.  It perplexes me when the facts are in front of people and they do not see them.  Spreadeagle must be seeing ideological smudges on the eyeglasses of reality and thinking the world is cloudy.

Also, it’s perplexing to hear conservatives complain about government ‘bailouts’ yet they don’t complain when we subsidize the oil industry to the tune of billions of our tax dollars per year.  We don’t just give them tax breaks, but we also give oil giants billions in ‘credits’ per year.   Why don’t you ever hear about that on False News or Rushinta Limbo?   You certainly don’t hear them talk about actual bailouts that occurred under former GOP presidents.

You also hear a lot of carping about a free market taking care of things.  A ‘free’ market implies a competitive market with a variety of suppliers competing for customers, not a hand full of players agreeing in private how to set pricing, crowding small businesses out or buying them off.  Conservatives seem to think creating  jobs and a free market means loosening clean air and clean water regulations so the oil business can get down and dirty again.  Why is the US exporting oil overseas if we need it here so much?  We can drill baby drill, but that is not going to lower gas prices like truly free markets protected from a multinational industrial monopolistic trust.

Conservatives speak with a forked tongue when they say they ‘hate to see folks lose their jobs, but don’t let the government do anything to protect them’.  It’s time for people like that to look more clearly at how far backward we have gone in this decade.  It didn’t start with Obama, it started right around the year 2000.

An image of John Boehner at the AT&T National ...

Image via Wikipedia

We have had the House of Representatives ruled by the GOP for over a year now.   I thought it might be instructive to review their year of inaction.  This list is by no means exhaustive and I’m sure someone else could better research and document the year in review.  My point in doing this is that this congress began with John Boehner yelling ‘where are the jobs?’  Did that yelling help your job search?

Here is what the GOP really wants to spend their time on:

  • In God We Trust
  • Terminate taxpayer voluntary funding of presidential campaigns
  • Repeal the Health Care act
  • Eliminate funding for NPR and PBS
  • Install a statue of Gerald Ford in the capitol
  • Terminate the Emergency Mortgage Relief program
  • Terminate the FHA Refinance Program
  • Eliminate tax funds for Planned Parenthood
  • Defund provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act
  • Prevent the EPA from addressing climate change due to greenhouse gases
  • Refuse to continue funding the government and jeopardizing the bond ratings of US Treasury bills.
  • Eliminate rules concerning the use of pesticides near water as regulated in the Water Pollution act
  • Deregulate clean air rules for oil drilling and refining
  • Fund non public elementary charter schools and CIA pensions
  • Eliminate financial transparency for the judicial branch
  • Balanced budget amendment to the constitution
  • Further deregulate Wall St
  • Defang rules established by executive order
  • Allow increases to payroll taxes

Don’t get me wrong, while I am opposed to most of these provisions, I am ambivalent to a few of these.  Back to my point though, where is the major jobs creation bill that was proposed and debated on the floor of the House?

Like I said, this is not an exhaustive list.  I think I forgot to include the ‘Improving the golf handicap act of 2011’.

Cover of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"

Obama did not get much of anything he wanted despite the emerging right wing talking point to the opposite.   He has had to put a brave face on a record level of congressional obstruction not seen in history before his administration.  Even though the dems held both house and senate for two years, not much happened without huge give aways to the right wing.  This is because nearly every effort to pass bills through the senate was barricaded by the GOP with by procedural delays such as calls for quorum and threats of a filibuster.

The only stimulus bill to help get the economy back on track was passed in the last days of the Bush administration.  After Obama’s inauguration, conservatives have actively blocked any further attempts by the congressional majority to help along a more successful economic recovery.  The GOP needs to have a crisis they can try to blame on Obama.

The 1939 movie with James Stuart,  ‘Mr Smith Goes to Washington’ dramatized the use of the filibuster as it came into uncommon use.  In a filibuster, senators may hold the floor and speak out on any subject for as long as they wish purely to obstruct the debate on the bill from going forward.

In recent years, the senate leadership has preferred to avoid the filibuster in order to proceed on other business.  For the convenience of allowing debate on other issues, it went from being a process requiring all day and all night speech on the floor to a short procedure, after which the senator may exit the door.

Until the senate leadership changes its policy on avoiding the filibuster, all the senator must do these days is threaten the filibuster and force a motion for cloture and the issue is closed.   Now that it is such an easy process, the GOP has used it to hold off Democratic initiatives such as the various jobs bills.  The cloture process has been used more in the last two years than in all preceding years combined.  This is an abuse of this arcane parliamentary procedure allowing the GOP to obstruct the recovery of our economy.

The current leadership should call the bluff of the GOP threats to filibuster and force them to stand in the well of the senate until their bladders explode and all phone books have been read into the record.   Maybe then we will see a rollback in the use of this procedure.

Filibuster Chart, Talking Points Memo, Brian Beutler